CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- New Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid, wearing a black T-shirt with #IMWITHKAP on the front, made it clear his fight against social injustice isn't over even though his return to the NFL came quicker than even he expected.
Reid said "without a doubt" his collusion case against the NFL will continue. The 26-year old also said he still is considering other ways to protest social injustice outside of taking a knee during the national anthem as he and former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began doing in 2016.
"I'm still evaluating the scope of our country and I'll make that decision later," Reid said on Monday, his first interview since signing with Carolina on Thursday.
Reid said the Panthers (2-1) didn't ask whether he would protest during the national anthem until after he signed. He is not concerned with the reaction he felt from fans during a 2016 game at Carolina's Bank of America Stadium when he and Kaepernick knelt during a Week 2 loss with the 49ers.
"I mean, I felt those emotions time and time again," Reid said. "You can't live in your own house in America without getting killed. It's powerful. I will keep speaking for my people."
Reid signed a one-year deal worth up to $2 million with play-time and Pro Bowl incentives. He will earn $1,214,286 in base salary, with $390,000 in 46-man roster bonuses for a total of $1.39 million and a salary cap figure of $1.69 million.
The Panthers signed Reid to replace veteran Da'Norris Searcy, who recently was placed on injured reserve after suffering his second concussion in a month.
The 2013 Pro Bowl selection said the Panthers and 49ers were the only teams to offer him a deal. He chose the Panthers "because they had a better offer."
Reid arrived at practice on Monday wearing No. 25 and walking with rookie cornerback Donte Jackson, like Reid a former LSU star. He immediately began working with the first team, taking 60 percent of the defensive snaps.
Carolina coach Ron Rivera said Reid could start in Sunday's game against the New York Giants.
Rivera added he and Reid had a good conversation about how they each feel about protests during the anthem. Rivera, who grew up in a military family, has been adamant that players should stand and show respect even though he's never made that mandatory.
"We feel good about who he is a young man and who we are as an organization," Rivera said.
Reid said he didn't expect to be back in football this quick. He declined to elaborate much on that or other aspects around his protests because "those circumstances have to do with my case."
In 2016, Reid was the first player to join Kaepernick in kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial inequality and police brutality.
In May, the NFLPA filed a grievance against the NFL on Reid's behalf, alleging that team owners and the league, influenced by President Donald Trump, colluded to prevent his employment because of his protests. Kaepernick, who filed a similar grievance in October 2017, remains unsigned.
Panthers general manager Marty Hurney told ESPN that the team began exploring its options last Monday and brought Reid in to meet with the staff on Wednesday. Asked whether Reid's grievance with the NFL was a factor, he said, "This was a football decision.''
Rivera said the same on Monday, citing the need for a veteran safety.
Reid said he's happy to be back in football. He also made it clear he feels as strong as ever on the issue of empowerment that led him to protest.
"I'll put it this way," Reid said. "Next year will be 2019. It will mark 400 years since the first slave touched the soil in this country. That's 400 years of systemic depression, that slavery, Jim Crow, new Jim Crow, mass incarceration, you name it ... the Great Depression, they came out with a new deal, black people didn't have access to those government stimulus packages. The new deal was set up which is known as the modern day middle class. We didn't have access to those programs, the GI bill, social security, home loans, none of that.
"So this has been happening since my people have gotten here. So I just felt the need to say something about it."
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